A Great Two-Hander Revived at the John Golden Theatre
On September 23, 2015, The Gin Game began previews at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway. The official opening night will take place on October 14, 2015. Presently, the show is scheduled to run for a limited engagement that will close on January 10, 2016. This two-hander by D.L. Coburn had its world premiere in Los Angeles in September 1976, before transferring to Broadway in 1978. That year, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1997, the play was revived on Broadway, and it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. The play has been adapted twice for television, once in 1981 starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy (who starred in the original Broadway production directed by Mike Nichols), and once in 2003 starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. This 2015 Broadway revival is directed by Leonard Foglia, whose previous Broadway directorial credits include the 2011 Roundabout Theatre Company production of The People in the Picture, the 2008 play Thurgood, the 2005 production of On Golden Pond, the 1998 production of Wait Until Dark, the 1995 production of Master Class, and the 1989 production of The Heidi Chronicles.
The play has only two charcters: Weller Martin (played by James Earl Jones), and Fonsia Dorsey (played by Cicely Tyson). These individuals are elderly residents of a nursing home who do not have any friends, until they meet each other. They friendship takes the form of regular games of gin rummy, with Weller teaching Fonsia how to play. However, Fonsia always wins, and at a certain point it can no longer be chalked up to beginner’s luck. While Weller becoming more and more frustrated, Fonsia becomes more and more confident. The friendly games quickly become competitive, and the competition extends beyond the games of gin rummy, as they attempt to expose each other’s weaknesses and thoroughly humiliate one another – to the delight of the audience. James Earl Jones is one of America’s most versatile and distinguished actors. In addition to a well known career on screen in such films as Dr. Strangelove, The Great White Hope, Claudine, Coming to America, and the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, Jones has also appeared on Broadway on many occasions. His stage performances include such shows as You Can’t Take It With You, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, On Golden Pond, and Master Harold and the Boys. Cicely Tyson has had as distinguished of a career. Her Broadway roles include such shows as The Trip to Bountiful, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress, as well as The Corn is Green, Trumpets of the Lord, Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, and A Hand Is on the Gate.
Reuniting Director and Actor from “On Golden Pond”
Leonard Foglia last directed James Earl Jones in the 2005 production of On Golden Pond, written by Ernest Thompson. At that time, Jones played opposite Leslie Uggams in an African American revival of the 1979 play. The play has some similarities to The Gin Game, as it also deals with an aging couple. In On Golden Pond, however, the couple is married and the drama arises when their daughter comes to visit them. In The Gin Game, the drama lies in the tension that arises between former strangers who live together by happenstance in a nursing home. Still, Leonard Foglia and James Earl Jones must have established a good rapport in their 2005 rendez-vous, and this production of The Gin Game will be all the tighter for the experience within the creative team.